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Archive for Sunday, August 21, 2011

Tonganoxie’s Purple Heart Veterans Foundation founder and brother have checkered pasts

August 21, 2011

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Purple Heart Veterans Foundation tax form ( .PDF )

Kansas Department of Corrections mug shot of Andrew Gruber, a Tonganoxie man who founded two nonprofit organizations, the Purple Heart Veterans Foundation and Kids vs. Cancer.

Gruber spent six months in prison, stemming from a felony theft conviction in 2000. Gruber pleaded guilty to stealing a rental car, and he was originally sentenced to probation and restitution. However, Gruber violated his probation when he did not make payments toward the $11,000 court-ordered restitution, and he missed several court appearances. His probation was revoked in 2004 and that's when he was sent to prison.

Kansas Department of Corrections mug shot of Andrew Gruber, a Tonganoxie man who founded two nonprofit organizations, the Purple Heart Veterans Foundation and Kids vs. Cancer. Gruber spent six months in prison, stemming from a felony theft conviction in 2000. Gruber pleaded guilty to stealing a rental car, and he was originally sentenced to probation and restitution. However, Gruber violated his probation when he did not make payments toward the $11,000 court-ordered restitution, and he missed several court appearances. His probation was revoked in 2004 and that's when he was sent to prison.

A felony theft conviction, multiple arrests and a police report about assaulting an employee.

The more you dig into the Tonganoxie-based Purple Heart Veterans Foundation and its fundraising contractor, the worse it looks for the charity that’s been collecting donations in front of local businesses.

Representatives from several nonprofit watchdog groups expressed concerns about the organization in an Aug. 7 Journal-World article after an investigation showed that only 11 cents of every dollar donated goes to support veterans, which is the stated goal of the nonprofit. In addition, nearly 80 percent of the $540,000 raised by the charity in 2010 was paid to a fundraising business, Independent Promotions, run by foundation director Andrew Gruber’s brother, Scott Gruber.

Further investigation has revealed that Andrew spent time in a Kansas prison for felony theft after pleading guilty to stealing a rental car in 2000. Gruber was sentenced to probation and restitution in the case but failed to make timely payments toward the $11,000 court-ordered victim restitution and missed numerous court appearances. Gruber’s probation was revoked in 2004, and he served a six-month prison sentence.

A criminal record search with the state of Indiana also found Scott Gruber has a lengthy criminal history, including convictions for public intoxication, criminal confinement, domestic battery and criminal recklessness, as well as arrests for other offenses.

In addition, the records search found an Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department report from August 2010 detailing allegations that Scott assaulted one of his employees, who was raising funds at a Walmart for another nonprofit Andrew founded, Kids Vs. Cancer. The employee alleges Scott assaulted and threatened him because the employee did not raise enough money during the shift. No arrest was made because the employee chose not to press charges.

“I need a job more than I need (Scott) arrested,” the employee said, according to the police report.

Andrew, who previously defended hiring his brother’s business for fundraising, did not return calls or emails from the Journal-World for this article.

The Journal-World was unable to contact Scott, whose company does not have a website or listed telephone number.

Legality?

While several nonprofit analysts who reviewed the tax forms for Andrew Gruber’s foundation didn’t see anything illegal in the operations of the charity, Gruber’s felony theft conviction could provide an avenue for action by county or state officials.

Kansas law governing charitable organizations gives county attorneys and the state Attorney General’s Office the option of filing a restraining order or injunction against a charity if anyone who solicits for the organization has a conviction based on “misappropriation, misapplication or misuse of money or property of another.”

Jeff Wagaman, a spokesman for the Attorney General’s Office said the office is “aware of the situation,” though he did not elaborate.

Leavenworth County Attorney Todd Thompson said he had not heard about the nonprofit and wasn’t aware of any investigation by law enforcement. However, Thompson said his office would consider looking into options once he learns more about the situation.

“We’re more than willing to do something,” Thompson said.

Store level

The Purple Heart Veterans Foundation was soliciting donations recently at two local stores, Walmart, 3300 Iowa, and Dillons, 1015 W. 23rd St.

Walmart, based on the Journal-World’s investigation, has banned Gruber’s organization from soliciting in front of the store, said Ashley Hardie, a spokeswoman for Walmart. Hardie said it was unclear which other stores Gruber’s charities solicit in front of nationally, and she could not locate information about which, if any, other Walmart stores had banned Gruber’s charities. Hardie said which organizations are allowed to solicit in front of Walmart stores is decided at store level by the store manager, and organizations must provide proof of IRS tax-exempt nonprofit status.

A Dillons spokesman did not return Journal-World calls inquiring about the status of Gruber’s nonprofits solicitation of donations.

Laurie Styron, a nonprofit analyst with the American Institute of Philanthropy, advised donors to focus on well-established nonprofits, and she recommended avoiding donating to groups soliciting in front of stores, especially if they’re an unknown group.

“Don’t give on the spot,” she said.

Comments

Deja Coffin 2 years, 8 months ago

It looks like this "non-profit" organization works their butt off to get money they don't deserve from people with good intentions so I think what we all should do is make it a little harder for them to do that. If you have a social media page you should post a link to this article on that page. I posted a link on my facebook page. Let your friends and family read the article and decide for themselves if they want to donate to this organization. I know I sure don't.

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imastinker 2 years, 8 months ago

I'm kind of surprised by some of the comments here. There's enough information to keep me from donating, but certainly not enough to convince me that this is illegal, or should be. It's probably perfectly legal, even if he has a poor expense ratio.

He's probably still better than the United Way as far as expense ratio.

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Armored_One 2 years, 8 months ago

But that is my point, Wissmo. At what point should this person provide the general masses with this information, instead of providing it to those that they are actually answerable to?

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Scott Morgan 2 years, 8 months ago

Armoured, why he not post? Inocents have all the right in the world to scream from the mountaintops, provide IRS information, expense reports, dadada..........

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Armored_One 2 years, 8 months ago

I've been posting here quite a while, unlike catman27, but I have to admit, you al sound a lot more like a lynch mob than you do concerned citizens.

I don't personally care one way or the other which direction this story goes. I find it rather sad and pathetic that there are more people on here demanding that Gruber be convicted of crimes before he has been charged with them in a court of law.

I will say, however, that I would find it fairly amusing to find out that Gruber is 100% telling the truth and then, in turn, decides to smack each and every one of you with a defamation lawsuit. A few thousand each would shut most of you up, since you'd probably lose your shirts, let alone your precious iPhone, iPad and whatever else you use to surf the Internet on.

If he is guilty, then by all means, smack him down. None of you are a prosecuting attorney in this case, since there is NO case yet, and you are not the judge. But you are more than willing to sit down and build the scaffolding for the hangman's noose, aren't you?

How does that saying go again?

Oh yeah. Innocent until accused of being guilty by anonymous fools online. Yeah, I had to go Google that one. Granted, online IS much safer than in person. Hard to smack someone online without trashing the monitor, let alone a more violent outcome.

Reverse the scenario.

Do you want to be sentenced for a crime before you commit said crime? If you don't want it done to you, stop doing it to someone else. Not a blasted one of you would know the man if you hit him with your car, but you are more than willing to make judgments on the entirety of his life?

Yeah, I know I will not change a single attitude, no matter how many words I use. But right is right, and I will gladly defend Gruber's right to a trial by jury, not execution by lynch mob every day of the week and twice on Sunday. I'd want someone to do that exact same thing for me if I found my feathers in the fire. Guess I'm the only decent human being here.

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50YearResident 2 years, 8 months ago

I think a Federal Investigation is in order here. Lets find out how much in income tax Gruber is claiming. (Make that all the Grubers linked to this organization.)

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autie 2 years, 8 months ago

I personaly like right to speach regaurdless of who rites it. I don't think no linching is merited yet. If people thought it was a scam they weren't give them the buiseness.

Gruber=crook=scumbag sleaze ball con artist. Put that in your spelling pipe and smoke it cat boy.

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catman27 2 years, 8 months ago

Too funny buddy. Sorry but im not gruber. I appreciate your concern though. This is a forrum for people to leave their comments and gain additional insight if im not mistaken and im simply exercising my right to speach and my right to gain insight. Personaly attacking me doesnt hardly seem to be appropriate. If you dont like what i have to say then dont read it.

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catman27 2 years, 8 months ago

I missed your coment on here earlier shaun but thanks for the reply back... definately an interesting story here.

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catman27 2 years, 8 months ago

I dont have a whole to dig there if hes scamming im confident that our government officials are more than capable of taking care of it. As for me commenting on other stories well shauns got an interesting story here theres no doubt about that i just dont think its time to start hanging up the linching rope yet. Thats all. This could be the next big thing or it could be another organization thats not run right or goes down in the books as another scam. Its too bad that that books so big. It would be nice to not have to be skeptical when someone says they are trying to help someone but unfortunately thats the way it is today. Our veterans will be taken care of regaurdless. There are plenty of good options to chose from.

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catman27 2 years, 8 months ago

Sorry buddy but im typing from my phone and this window doesnt allow me to see all that is typed or go back n correct mispellings im sure if you look hard enough you will find plenty. Also yoh brought up a pretty good point with the website that is the only way i donate when i do because its the only way to kow your not paying a solicitor but even then everyone has to work so im not gonna look down on those that chose that as a profession. At least they are getting paid to help but i chose to do my donations directly. I also will not donate to new organizations because as shaun pointed out in his article it is hard to say whats what only time will tell on this one i just dont think its fair to call it a scam when there is obviously more we need to see here. As i said before i will make my decisions based on how the operation develops. Just a thought...

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geekin_topekan 2 years, 8 months ago

Lessee...Where have I seen this the word, business, misspelled the same way? Hmm...

Oh yeah back on August 7th ++++

Gruber20 (anonymous) says…

Dear sir...

As a charity we operate 100% within the laws governing charitable contributions[...] As most people are aware advertising a new buiseness, +++ I knew I'd seen that misspelling before. I wonder if CM and Grub20 are related?

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geekin_topekan 2 years, 8 months ago

If you would like to donate even more here's another op.

Kids Vs Cancer Foundation 9320 S Padre Island Dr #1903 Corpus Christi, TX 78418

Steven Gruber steven@kidsvscancerdonations.org

Fax: 866-418-9188

++++++++++ Catman wrote: "in that story were that that type of fundraising is inefficient and most charities break even at best. Direct mail returns my buiseness a 1%return and i lose money everytime but its crucial to get my buiseness in front of potential customers." Groan

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catman27 2 years, 8 months ago

Donors are being solicited in case you didnt read the article and besides that im sure in these tough economic times people are not giving them thousands of dollars. I cant speak for you but i dont think a 20 is gonna give any tax advantage. And speaking of that the federal government realizes that it costs money to operate a charity so they allow the donations to be tax deductible to offset that cost for the donor. Is someone really donating to a cause if they are doing it for a tax shelter? Besides all of that in the previous story on the comments gruber posted that the fundraising company operates in indiana and not here. To bad the story is here and affecting the volunteer force he said he uses which obviously drops the bulk of the money to the bottom line. Does anyone remember shauns story on the save the kids back in june? Read the articles and compare the comments... its obvious that people are screaming scam because the company in indiana is ran by his brother... i wonder how different this would be if it was an unaffiliated company... ms styrons comments in that story were that that type of fundraising is inefficient and most charities break even at best. Direct mail returns my buiseness a 1%return and i lose money everytime but its crucial to get my buiseness in front of potential customers. Charities are the same way and his choice is netting money to the bottom line and he was able to get 60 grand to our veterens that needed help. High overhead? Definately but he said the numbers are better this year due to volunteer operation. Do we have or can we get a recap of this years operation? It would be nice to see.

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catman27 2 years, 8 months ago

Oh and for those of u that know how to use google look up the difference between a 501 c3 and a 501 c4 foundation. If he was intending on scammin why go c3 and file public 990 reports. Just a thought.

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catman27 2 years, 8 months ago

I think its funny that people are so quick to pass judgement on people. You wonder why he didnt comment or isnt on here defending himself? Does it really matter you will just continue to say hes scamming n skimming like you already are. I too have done alot of research and the charities that are achieving higher percentages have grant writers and have been established. I also looked at the 990 report and its plain to see the expenses and though 11% might not be the greatest it was a first year start up. All charities were unestablished in the beginning. Oh and as far as skimming goes if its that easy to raise a half million dollars in a year that they could be skimming and you can do it with so much lower expence than why arent you? Your a nothing more than someone with something to say about something you have no knowledge of. Some people make mistakes in their life seems like he cleaned his life up but the brothers company could be a different story but still no arest someones really going to keep working for someone that assaults them? I doubt that but possible. Maybe a disgruntled employee tryin to get their way? Probably way more likely... anyone thats ever had to let someone go knows that some people will pull some uncalled for stunts. Just a thought.

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geekin_topekan 2 years, 8 months ago

Here's a solicitation from a website called "housing for(4) veterans dot org " out of Tongie>>

"If you or your Company would like to become a donator to make a difference by helping our homeless veterans, please click the link below"

What is a donator? Company? Do you mean those guys hanging out by my grill in the backyard?

"TO make a difference BY helping..."<Yikes.

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blindrabbit 2 years, 8 months ago

Were either of these turkeys US military veterans! Don't think so, they served their country in jail instead!

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Dixie Jones 2 years, 8 months ago

wonder why hes not here defending him and his brother now like he did on the last story ljw published ,,,,,hummmmm

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Bob Forer 2 years, 8 months ago

I don't quite understand why some people on this site are still defending the guy after the latest revelations. Sure, some charitable organizations have high operating expenses. But I am sure the "legitimate" ones cites don't use a relative's for-profit fundraising company as their fundraiser. And I am sure their board of directors are not convicted felons. And since much of their donations are are in the form of cash, we have no idea of how much was skimmed off the top.

And aren't some of you further suspicious that Gruber refused to cooperate with this article.

Come on people. Don't be so naive.

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Scott Morgan 2 years, 8 months ago

Every buck this creep grabs is a buck not put in the right hands. For some reason when asked to donate at Dillons was wondering why I'd never heard of the association. Something didn't feel right.

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geekin_topekan 2 years, 8 months ago

Here's some info from Indiana. I wonder if they are related?

Veterans Hospital Relief Foundation http://independent2434@yahoo.com 8316 Crosser Drive Indianapolis, Indiana 46237 USA ph: 3173621269

Contact Person: Scott Gruber

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TheRealClarkKent 2 years, 8 months ago

The 11% is really not as uncommon as most people would like to think. I have first hand knowledge as I use to review the filings for charitable organizations at a state agency. The percentages for some well-known fundraisers are in the same range.

You can always check out charities at:

www.kscharitycheck.org

Just keep in the mind the numbers on the site will be skewed since it does factor in general operating expenses. If you want to see more detailed records which includes all expenses, you will have to request a full report.

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50YearResident 2 years, 8 months ago

The 11% actual donation to the charity is on the amount they "claimed" to have recieved as donations. It's hard telling how much was actually recieved and continues to be recieved that may not be showing up on the books. Looks like the IRS needs to get involved in this "charity".

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buffalo63 2 years, 8 months ago

I hope the state and county AG go after these jerks. They make it hard for legit organizations to raise money and for the rest of us to feel good about helping. Saw this "group" in front of Dillon's and it made me uneasy NOT to give to Vets, but now glad I didn't.

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jaywalker 2 years, 8 months ago

Definitely smells hinky when given these guys' backgrounds, but the 11% isn't that far off the 15% the National Kidney Foundation generates. Hopefully someone will do a thorough investigation into all their financials to be certain.

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cheeseburger 2 years, 8 months ago

What a sleazy slimeball. I hope he is made to make restitution and thrown in the klink once again. Theft is theft, but the way this POS goes about it really chaps me.

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